Camelot Theme Park

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Camelot
Camelot Theme Park logo.jpg
Camelot's logo, 2006-2012
Slogan The land of great knights, and amazing days
Location Charnock Richard, Chorley, Lancashire, England
Coordinates 53°38′07″N 2°41′51″W / 53.63528°N 2.69750°W / 53.63528; -2.69750Coordinates: 53°38′07″N 2°41′51″W / 53.63528°N 2.69750°W / 53.63528; -2.69750
Operating season May - September
Area 40 acres (160,000 m2)

Camelot Theme Park was a resort and theme park located in the English county of Lancashire. The park's theme was the well-known legend of Camelot, and the park decor incorporated pseudo-medieval elements. It was located on a 140-acre (0.57 km2; 0.22 sq mi) site[1] near the village of Charnock Richard, 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Chorley.

One of the rollercoasters can be seen from the M6 near the Charnock Richard Services. The site was owned by The Story Group, and was operated by Knights Leisure. The park featured many rides, taking a target audience of families and younger children, however the park also boasted numerous thrill rides and roller coasters, including Whirlwind (a Maurer Söhne spinning coaster), Knightmare and Excalibur.

The park was featured in an episode of Sooty & Co., in which presenter Matthew Corbett takes Sooty, Sweep and Soo there. During the 2012 season, Camelot suddenly announced that they would not be reopening for the 2013 season. [2]

History[edit]

The park opened in 1983, and was operating seasonally until late 2012. The park was based on the story of 'Camelot, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table'. The local area was once covered by the largest lake in England Martin Mere, which was first drained in 1692 by Thomas Fleetwood of Bank Hall in Bretherton. (The story is that Sir Lancelot's parents King Ban of Benwick and his queen Elaine escaped to Lancashire from their enemies in France. Elaine went to help King Ban who had fallen and put Lancelot down on the shore of the lake, by where he was abducted by nymph Vivian who vanished into the waters of the lake with him. Vivian brought up Lancelot and when he went to King Arthur's court he was knighted as 'Sir Lancelot of the Lake'.) Martin Mere has been locally known as the 'Lost Lake of Sir Lancelot' following the myth.[3]

In 1986, it was taken over by The Granada Group, and operated by them alongside its now defunct sister parks American Adventure and Granada Studios Tour. In June 1998, the park was subject to a management buyout, in which the park went to Prime Resorts Ltd. Camelot had seen a downturn in attendance in later years, in 1995, Camelot's attendance was 500,000 visitors throughout the season.[4]

In 2005, Camelot's attendance was only 336,204 visitors.[5] In August 2006, in an survey of healthy food available, at leading tourist attractions in the United Kingdom, Camelot came joint bottom scoring only one point.[6]

In February 2009, Prime Resorts announced that the park was in receivership, and would not reopen for the 2009 season.[7] The hotel was bought by Lavender Hotels in March 2009,[8] and in April 2009, it was announced that a buyer had been found for the park and that it would reopen in May 2009.[9][10]

The theme park was purchased by Story Group, a construction company based in Carlisle and leased to Knight's Leisure who ran the park. The site's future remains uncertain as the new owner is planning to redevelop the site. Current indications are that this will be a housing development.[1][11]

The closure of the park was announced by its operator, Knights Leisure, in November 2012, the managing director blaming poor summer weather and events such as London 2012 and the Queen's Jubilee for declining visitor numbers.[2][12] Today, some rollercoasters were sold (for example Whirlwind bought by the German "Skyline Park"), others rust in the abandoned park.[13]

In August 2014, an application to build 420 houses on the site by owners Story Group was unanimously rejected by Chorley Council with 261 public objections, as the development was not permissible within the Green Belt. [14] As of September 2016, the park is still standing, albeit crumbling and having been attacked several times by arsonists. Rides that still stand on the site include the Knightmare rollercoaster.[15]

In August 2016, a second application to build 200 houses on the site was announced. Plans have yet to be filed with Chorley Council, however The Story Group had public consultations during July 2016 and is planning to move ahead.

Rides and shows[edit]

Camelot Theme Park Entrance & Go Kart Track

Rides and attractions[edit]

The following rides were operating at the time of the park's closure in 2012.

Colour Target Audience
Thrill ride
Family ride
Children's ride

Roller coasters[edit]

# Name Opened Description
1 Caterpillar Capers
1991
A 'wacky worm' style big apple children's coaster, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Gulliver's World in Warrington.
2 Dragon Flyer
1987
One of only 2 diesel powered roller coasters in the World. Manufactured by S.C. Italy, this attraction loops the lower section of the park, in 2013 the ride's train was relocated to Pleasureland Southport however the track still stands rusting as of 2016. The second is located at Jannat Al-Ahlam in Oran, Algeria.
3 Junior Dragon Coaster
1992
A powered children's coaster, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Oakwood Theme Park.
4 Knightmare
2007
A custom Schwarzkopf / Zierer roller coaster that pulled 5Gs. Standing but not operating (SBNO)
5 Whirlwind
2003
A Maurer Söhne Xtended SC 2000 spinning coaster, in 2013 the ride is now relocated to Skyline Park in Germany.
Knightmare Ride, Camelot

Thrill rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
6 Excalibur 2
1995
A Fabbri Evolution. Named after the park's original Excalibur ride. A boy fell from the ride on 23 August 2011, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Pleasureland Southport.
7 The Galleon A non-inverting Pirate ship (ride), in 2013 the ride was relocated to Pleasureland Southport.

Family rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
8 Dungeons of Doom
1994
Small ghost train-style dark ride
9 Falcon's Flight
1988
Zamperla rotating Balloon Race (ride). In 2013 the ride is relocated to Gulliver's Land in Milton Keynes.
10 Formula-K Go Karts Requires an extra charge.
11 Jousting Knights Dodgems Bumper cars located in the park's family entertainment centre. It was thought to be relocated to Oakwood Theme Park but was not due to cost.
12 Kingdom in the Clouds
1987
A Ferris Wheel overlooking the Knight's Valley area of the park, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Pleasureland Southport.
13 Pendragon's Plunge 1997 Set of three blue waterslides, taking riders from the entrance down to Knight's Valley, in 2013 2 of the slides relocated to Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock. The remaining slide (rightmost) historically failed to carry riders to the bottom and was decommissioned.
14 Sir Lancelot's Chargers An ornate two-tier carousel, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Pleasureland Southport.
15 Camelot Cascade The log flume ride, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Oakwood Theme Park in Wales.
Castle Entrance, Camelot

Children's rides[edit]

# Name Opened Description
16 Bertie Bassett's Driving School Extra charge required
17 Clown Around
18 Cup 'n' Sorcerer in 2014,the ride is relocated to Oakwood Theme Park In Wales
19 Human Cannonball
20 Junior Galleon A junior swinging pirate ship, in 2013, the ride is relocated to Oakwood Theme Park in Wales.
21 Junior Jousting Horses
22 Kiddies' Indoor Playland Soft indoor play area
23 Playland Express Small circuit electric train, in 2013 the ride is relocated to Oakwood Theme Park.
24 Sky Divers
25 Towers of Fun Soft indoor play area

Shows[edit]

  • Jousting Tournament A live joust performed by Camelot's own Knights, led by an actor playing King Arthur and performed in the Avalon Arena. The park hosted the UK's only full-time jousting arena.
  • Merlin's Magic Show Performed in Merlin's castle, this show demonstrated 'Merlin's magical skills'.
  • Merlin's School of Wizardry Performed in Merlin's castle, Merlin's School of Wizardry taught some of Merlin's magic to the audience.
  • Birds of Prey Show Performed daily in the Avalon Arena, featuring an African fish eagle.

Other Defunct Attractions[edit]

Past Rides[edit]

# Name Opened Closed Description
16 Tower of Terror
1989
2000
A steel sit-down roller coaster manufactured by Schwarzkopf. It was removed in 2000 to make way for a Vekoma Invertigo, and also due to cost issues as the ride was leased along with the original Excalibur from the Bembom Brothers. However, planning permission was denied for this ride so the park was forced to replace the ride with a Pinfari ZL42, "The Gauntlet" (since closed). While the ride was being taken down, an expanding foam castle which was part of the rides theming was burned down when some sparks from a saw hit it. The ride itself was unscathed and after a brief period at Dreamland Margate it is now the Twist N' Shout located at Henk Bembom's now-closed Loudoun Castle (theme park).
17 The Rack
1994
2010
Vekoma Canyon Trip. the only split level ride in Europe. It was generally unreliable and in 2009 it suffered a serious mechanical failure which was not economical to repair. It was removed for the following season.
18 Excalibur
1995
2000
Was a Weber Dreamboat (Traumboot) and was removed with the Tower of Terror. It stood originally on the site of the Whirlwind, however the space the Tower of Terror originally took up was more than enough space for the replacement Gauntlet Pinfari roller coaster and the Excalibur 2 (Fabbri Evolution). This left a site vacant, which was later used for the Whirlwind
19 The Beast/Venom
2005
A steel powered dark-roller coaster. It was removed in 2005 due to increasing safety regulations with indoor roller coasters. While operated, the ride was enclosed inside a building and kept in the dark. When first opened, the ride was originally called "The Knightmare" and was an outdoor coaster. In 1985, a mountain theme was placed over "The Knightmare" and its name was changed to "Space Mountain". In 1988, the indoor coaster was renamed/re-themed "The Beast" and featured the best audio for the ride, before the train moved from the station. In the mid 1990s, "The Beast" was renamed "Venom". This building was removed in 2001 to make way for an extension to the Castle Camelot entertainment centre, which would have created an extended indoor entertainment centre including replacement ride. However, when it became apparent the park could close within the next few years the plans were largely scaled back, leaving room for the ride to stay. The building and ride were then rebuilt, but was themed as a snake, in a snakes lair. The ride is now owned by Williams Amusements and the castle was extended to include the new indoor entertainment centre and firstly a Rollerquest (Lasertag) attraction, and then Dodgems ride.
21 The Sorcerer
1995
1997
A Pinfari rollercaster. It was considered too small a roller coaster and it was not as popular with guests as the park hoped. Its presence was faded by the ever popular Tower of Terror.
22 The Quintain
2005
was a Huss Flipper and was removed before the 2006 season started and was replaced by a carousel. It was thought by many guests that the ride was not suitable for the target audience of the park.
23 The Gauntlet a Pinfari ZL42 Looping Rollercoaster. During 2002 and 2003 the ride experienced considerable downtime. After refurbishment of the trains and braking system the ride had 2 very good seasons. To further improve the ride a new train was purchased in 2005. The ride was then moved to make way for the Knightmare ride. The ride then operated at New Pleasureland in Southport for a short time. It has now been refurbished and rebuilt in the Marina Park, Varna, Bulgaria.
24 Carousel smaller of the two Carousels in the park was removed after the 2006 season due to its age and being shaded by the much more extravagant carousel located close by. The Junior Galleon has been moved to the front of the Playland building to occupy the Carousel's central spot.
25 Leverets A small children's ride located at the side of the Rack (previous locations include: the side of the original Excalibur, and at the front of the park - under a different name). It was removed after the 2006 season due to the cars and track becoming unreliable. The ride was often closed when the park was open, and has been replaced by a gnome garden.
26 Mad Monastery Dark funhouse ride, situated at the back of the Playland area
27 Dragon Heights
1987
Spinning Ride. Three pink dragons located behind The Beast and rotated through 360 degrees, but did not turn upside down. It was a family version of the 'Rainbow' style magic carpet ride that was at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Dragon Heights was removed due to being unreliable.
28 Splashpool Located behind the white castle. and removed before the extension of the Indoor Entertainment Centre.

Past shows[edit]

  • Cats Of The Round Table A animatronic show that was near the front of the park.
  • Sooty and the Dragon A puppet show to do with a popular puppet.

Accidents[edit]

  • On 22 October 2001, Harry Mathews, a park employee, was struck by The Gauntlet roller coaster, and was killed whilst repairing the tracks.[16] In September 2009, the park was fined £4 Million, as it had no written safety procedures for its staff.[17]
  • On 23 August 2011, a 12-year-old boy fell from the Excalibur 2 ride. He survived.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "800 applicants for park jobs". Chorley Guardian. Johnston Publishing. 2011-03-16. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Camelot Theme park in Lancashire closes down". News. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Ashworth. E, (2007) "Tales of Old Lancashire - The Lost Lake of Sir Lancelot", Pages 39-41.
  4. ^ "Visits to Tourist Attractions in Lancashire, 1995-2004". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2006-09-19. 
  5. ^ "Major Attractions in the Northwest". NWDA Research Team. Retrieved 2006-09-19. 
  6. ^ "Tourist attractions 'unhealthy'". BBC News. 2006-08-25. Retrieved 2006-09-19. 
  7. ^ "Theme park goes into receivership". BBC News. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  8. ^ "Buyer found for theme park hotel". BBC. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  9. ^ "Short-term rescue for theme park". BBC News. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  10. ^ "Cultrix | Your personal IT superheroes". Camelotthemepark.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-01. 
  11. ^ "Story Group acquire Camelot theme park". Story Group. April 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  12. ^ "Lancashire theme park to close". Lancashire Evening Post. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Verkauft und Verrostet: Ein Blick in den Camelot Theme Park" (in German). Airtimers.com. 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2016-09-18. 
  14. ^ "Agenda for Development Control Committee on Tuesday, 5th August 2014, 6.30 pm". Democracy.chorley.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Camelot - An abandoned Knightmare?". Airgates. 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  16. ^ "Death at theme park". BBC News. 2001-10-22. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  17. ^ "Theme park fined over ride death". BBC News. 2003-09-23. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  18. ^ "Camelot Theme Park ride to remain closed after fall". BBC News. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-12-07. 

External links[edit]